Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis
Volume 12, 1987
There are several difficulties in interpreting the pictures on the Saami shaman drums. Some of the figures found in the space between the central sun sign and the edge on some fifty drumskins occupy positions within certain quadrants like similar figures in our traditional western star charts. The present study continues the theme of by making a comparison of the pictures on the edge and the central figure complex (the sun sign). As the analysis has been extended, it has also become possible to adopt a new position with regard to the overall picture. This has led to observations that the zodiac can be discerned more or less clearly in the mass of constellations, that the positioning is decided by orientating the drum in relation to the height of the sun and thus to the Saamis' calendar, to the seasons and to the cardinal points. It is moreover probable that the drums were connected, at least indirectly, to a commonly held idea about the natural elements and their connection with people's basic temperaments. In other words: the similarity between the Saamis' "magic drums" and the astrolabes found among the European neighbouring peoples has been further reinforced, provided one means by this the basic pattern of the figures and their arrangement in a holistic system which we could regard as a psycho-cosmogram. It is even possible that the Saami shaman, noai'de, if he peered from underneath, through the semitransparent drumskin, could understand the horoscope diagram with its reversed constellations/signs as was used by his colleagues in the rest of Europe—as a theistically sanctioned cosmological projection, in contrast to the natural reproduction by the Saami drum of the apparent anti-clockwise rotation of the stars once every twenty-four hours.